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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist


Prototype mild-hybrid Toyota Hilux teased testing in Kenya

Unofficial participation in the Safari Rally round of the World Rally Championship supposed to alleviate fears of the hybrid system's durability.


Despite the emergence of details earlier this week about the mild-hybrid version of the Toyota Hilux, official images of the prototype model have now been released as per its usage in the Safari Rally in Kenya.

Appearing largely identical to the regular Hilux, bar the green-silver-and-black Hybrid decals, the prototype driven by four-times World Rally Championship (WRC) champion and long-time Toyota driver Juha Kankkunen will eventually become a reality next year as the likely final major update for the now almost decade generation.

Diesel/hybrid

Showcased at the only African round of the WRC, the prototype combines the existing 2.8 GD-6 turbodiesel engine with a 48-volt mild-hybrid Toyota says will improve efficiency by as much as 10% while also reducing emissions by a significant but undisclosed amount.

ALSO READ: Toyota starts dropping details of Hilux’s mild-hybrid system

At the same time, using the Safari, an event renowned as being one of the toughest of the WRC calendar supposedly quells any fears about the durability of the hybrid system even in the roughest conditions.

As confirmed by Toyota Australia this week, the hybrid system won’t have any impact on the Hilux’s 3 500 kg tow rating, but will be limited to double cab models fitted with the six-speed automatic gearbox only.

Toyota teases mild-hybrid Hilux undergoing testing
Rear has also been unaltered. Image: Toyota

This means a likely power and torque increase from the current 150kW/500Nm, tipped to potentially rival or even improve on the 165kW/550Nm made by the Hilux GR Sport.

Impressed

For now though, an official output figure is unknown with Kankkunen, who won a single of his four titles with Toyota, but raced for the outfit for almost a decade, being quoted as saying that the mild-hybrid “feels much faster than standard model”.

Toyota teases mild-hybrid Hilux undergoing testing
Using the Kenyan round of the WRC meant to alleviate fears of the hybrid system’s durability. Image: Toyota

The Finn also stated: “I’m 100% sure that this type of car will fit in Africa very well because there are still long-distance drives and it’s very difficult to charge electric cars. You can save fuel, which means less CO2. Africa is a good market for this kind of car.”

Extensive roll-out

Besides the Hilux, the mild-hybrid system will also be inserted in the next generation Fortuner reportedly out later this year, and potentially also the Land Cruiser 79 confirmed last month as receiving the GD-6 mill either below or above the 4.5 D-4D V8 that will remain available for as long as demand prevails.

Due to go on-sale Down Under in the first quarter of next year, the mild-hybrid system has been approved for South Africa and expected to become available in the Hilux and Fortuner either at the same time or soon after its debut in Australia.

ALSO READ: Mild-hybrid power coming to Toyota Hilux and Fortuner in 2024

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